Body image used to be my kryptonite. I’d spend hours scrolling through “fitspiration” accounts on Instagram, drinking in images of women with perfect physiques and gorgeous bodies. The addiction only served to fuel my own self-limiting beliefs. I’d stand in front of the mirror criticizing every inch of my body, consumed by negative thoughts about never being “good enough” or failing to meet society’s definition of “beautiful.” It was unhealthy. Self-sabotaging. And it certainly weighed on my mental health.
As a result, I found myself grinding away at the gym, gasping for breath as I forced myself to perform high-intensity workouts. Drenched in sweat day after day, lacking motivation, feeling exhausted – it took a serious toll on me. Not only did I begin to completely detest every minute of exercising, but that same pessimistic mentality seeped its way into every facet of my life – work, friends, my diet, my desire to leave the house. It was depressing.
So, what changed? I discovered the power of Pilates and how impactful joyful movement could be.
Helping Women Form a Healthy Relationship With Their Body
Unattainable standards seen in magazines, on TV, and on social media does not equate to a realistic picture of what holistic wellness should truly be. Sweaty sessions on the treadmill and endless quotes telling us, “No pain, no gain,” isn’t how to exercise self-love. I created my online program, The Pilates Club, as a way to transform the conversation around fitness and help women discover their worth and value as individuals. Not only is the program for all shapes, ages, and sizes (beginner-friendly too!), but it’s a way to celebrate our bodies in a way that focuses on positivity and mindful movement.
Pilates offers something no other workout system can, as it uses gentle, deliberate movements to effectively activate your muscle groups on a deeper, more rewarding level. With each workout lasting between 10 and 30 minutes, it’s easy to integrate into your daily routine and it doesn’t feel like a dreaded chore. The exercise calms the mind, strengthens the body, and teaches you to truly appreciate and care for yourself – both physically and mentally. How? As a member of TPC, you’ll enjoy the convenience of on-demand videos designed to deliver a little exercise-induced endorphin boost.
In addition to building strength, stability, and balance, I wanted to provide women with a supportive community that promotes empowerment, shared experiences, and healthy habits. This is a place free of judgment – to express your insecurities and goals in a safe environment. Exercising shouldn’t be an outlet we use to punish ourselves for things like overindulging in too many snacks over the weekend. Instead, you need to shift your motive for working out. For example, you’re choosing to exercise to improve focus and mental clarity before a big meeting at work. By adopting this mindset, you are choosing movement for its fulfilling, rewarding benefits, rather than as a form of punishment.
Placing An Emphasis On Body Neutrality
Similar to the term, “body positivity,” “body neutrality” is about loving your entire self as a person – not just your body. I decided to take this unique and transformative approach to Pilates after witnessing how impactful it was in helping others improve their relationship with themselves and exercising.
Here’s why I think the word neutrality (as it relates to your body) is important: who the heck is positive 100% of the time? I mean, let’s be real here. While we’d all love to be radiating joy every second of every day, there’s also an element of being honest with ourselves about what’s attainable. By adopting this mindset, you’ll never feel like you’ve “failed.” While the goal is to feel good about yourself a majority of the time, if you have an “off” day, it’s perfectly fine – you can still learn to respect your body – and that’s what’s important here.
But, how do you get there? The answer is simple: focus on self-care over punishing workouts. Here are some fitness mistakes I’ve made (and learned from) along my journey and tips for practicing body neutrality.
#1. Ditch the Scale
Ugh. The dreaded scale. Think about it for a second. The scale measures one thing – your weight as it relates to the weight of the earth. It doesn’t measure the multitude of other, more important things, such as muscle mass, your physical and mental health, your level of happiness, or how much you’ve smiled or laughed on any given day. All it does is continually fluctuate and confuse people – “Why am I five pounds heavier this afternoon than I was yesterday morning?”
How have we come to place so much value in a number that is unpredictable and, quite frankly, an inaccurate representation of the whole picture? Once I stopped weighing myself CONSTANTLY, tossed my scale in the trash, and reframed my entire mindset, I unlocked a new level of energy and happiness that I’ve never felt before.
#2. Good vs. Bad, Black vs. White, & Right vs. Wrong
Have you ever taken a moment to pause and reflect on how we like to hold ourselves to extremes? Like there’s no in-between? No healthy balance? For this tip, I want you to focus on your relationship with food and how you frame certain items as “good” or “bad.” Why are we force-feeding ourselves kale for every single meal?
It’s okay to indulge. Treat yourself to that cheeseburger. Enjoy a cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream every once in a while. When we categorize food and our eating habits it only serves to fuel our guilt if we stray off track. Self-punishment for a cookie is not the answer. Food is food. By adopting this perspective, you’ll free yourself from the shackles of “diet culture” and the unhappiness that stems from overanalyzing every bite of food you take. What it all comes down to is balance.
#3. Form a Relationship With Yourself
There are going to be times in life where you feel down in the dumps. And that’s okay – no one is perfect. However, when I feel like I’m sliding towards a dark place, I put myself in a safer mindset by talking to myself. It may sound silly, but you’d be pleasantly surprised how something as small as telling yourself, “Media is capitalizing on my insecurities. The perfect body? Doesn’t exist. I will not let the beauty (or food) industry dictate my life. I am the winner here, not them.” Not only are you speaking the truth, but you’re prioritizing self-love, which is incredibly important for your well-being. Over time, these thoughts will naturally become a part of your life – just like forming any new habit.
#4. Be Cognizant of Your Triggers
Triggers can appear in a medley of different ways. Maybe you have a body-shaming friend. Or, maybe your family feels compelled to consistently harp on you about your weight. Whatever the case may be, have a conversation about it. Yes, I realize it’ll be tough. But, it can also be life-changing. Protect yourself by creating an environment that’s empowering rather than cynical.
Ready to experience the transformative power that Pilates can have on your mental and physical well-being?